The Toxic Avenger

by J. Peter Bergman

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Tuesday May 26, 2009

The Toxic Avenger

The Toxic Avenger was a silly little horror film that never became the secret thrill of moviegoers the way its predecessor, "Little Shop of Horrors", had done.

With New Jersey's first superhero, a nerdy fellow destined to destroy those who fill the landscape of that state with toxic waste. Now, it seems, the musical version may face the exact same fate as the movie.

With music and lyrics by David Bryan and a book by Joe DiPietro, "The Toxic Avenger", the musical, is really just a modest attempt to bring to the stage a "laugh-riot" version of the non-classic independent film.

Luckily for the recording there is a talented company of players taking on the many varied roles needed to pull off such a venture.

In particular there are Demond Green as Black Dude and Matthew Saldivar as White Dude. These two take on the many parts that the book needs, both male and female. The very talented Nancy Opel is heard in three roles and she is very good in all of them, particularly in a duet for two of her parts, "Bitch/Slut/Liar/Whore."

The leading roles are performed here by Nick Cordero as Melvin Ferd, the Nerd who is transformed into the Toxic Avenger and Sara Chase as his love, the librarian Sarah.

The romantic plot is trivial compared to the political one, and yet it takes prominence as is the case in musicals and the ballad, "You Tore My Heart Out," is not going to become one for the great standards.

It is sung, as a bonus track, by the composer David Bryan, but even his rendition doesn't make it a better piece.

All in all, "The Toxic Avenger" just cannot compare to its forebears.

For horror musicals give me the big blood-lust plant and its people over these newcomers. Maybe its the classic New York/New Jersey competition: with the exception of Atlantic City, New York always wins.

J. Peter Bergman is a journalist and playwright,living in Berkshire County, MA. A founding board member of the Berkshire Stonewall Community Coalition and former New York Correspondent for London's Gay News, he spent a decade as theater music specialist for the Rodgers and Hammerstein Archives at Lincoln Center in NYC, is the co-author of the recently re-issued The Films of Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy and a Charles Dickens Award winner (2002) for his collection of short fiction, "Counterpoints." His new novel ""Small Ironies" was well reviewed on Edge and in other venues as well. His features and reviews can also be read in The Berkshire Eagle and other regional publications. His current season reviews can be found on his website: He is a member of NGLJA.